Monday, April 27, 2009

Gaps in the Right's "banana republic" rhetoric.

As the Republicans thump out their new theme, that to prosecute Bush officials would reduce the US to the state of a banana republic, Media Matters has been looking into whether or not these same people made similar arguments when there was talk of possibly prosecuting Bill Clinton after he left office.

It will surprise no-one to discover that these appalling hypocrites were actually making no such "banana republic" argument then, but were actively in favour of prosecution.

Sean Hannity doesn't want to investigate Bush administration torture, because Sean Hannity likes the Bush administration and likes torture. But he doesn't actually mind investigating past administrations, and he doesn't actually think that doing so would make America like a Third World dictatorship.

In fact, Sean Hannity argues in favor of investigations and prosecutions of past administrations -- as long as the past administrations are
Democratic administrations.

In April of 2000, for example, when independent counsel Robert Ray (Ken Starr's successor) suggested that he might indict Bill Clinton when Clinton left office, Hannity said he thought that should happen. On January 21, 2001 -- the day after George W. Bush replaced Clinton in office -- Hannity reiterated that position. In March of 2001, Hannity argued that there should be a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton pardons, and that Clinton attorney general Janet Reno should be indicted.

So, Sean Hannity argues that we should investigate and prosecute past presidents and members of their administrations if they don't tell the truth about consensual affairs, and if they pardon someone who may not have deserved pardoning. But if we investigate torture, we're a Third World dictatorship.
I've long stopped pretending that people like Hannity have a single ounce of morality anywhere within them, they are simply shameless peddlers of whatever the Republican party need them to peddle at any given moment in time. At the moment they are being called upon to express outrage that anyone might wish to prosecute war criminals for war crimes, which Hannity insists on viewing as mere "policy differences".

Nor is Hannity alone in this orgy of right wing hypocrisy:

Nor has Mark Steyn always thought that prosecuting a past president would make the U.S. a "banana republic," as he argued this week. With Clinton weeks away from leaving office, Steyn noted that Ray "has been re-interviewing Monica with a view to indicting Clinton after Jan. 20." Steyn didn't denounce the idea of indicting Clinton after he left office; instead, he expressed sadness that it was unlikely.

How about The Wall Street Journal editorial board? Has it been consistent in its view that past administrations shouldn't be investigated? Of course not. In the spring of 2001, for example, then-Journal editorial board member John Fund argued that the pardon scandal was "a classic scenario for the Justice Department appointing a special counsel."

The Journal's current outrage at the prospect of investigations of Bush administration wrongdoing isn't merely inconsistent, it perversely clings to the antiseptic phrase "policy disagreements" to describe differing views on whether or not torture is acceptable.
So, they were all for investigating Bill Clinton because of who he pardoned, which I am sure even these nutcases wouldn't pretend was not his right as president, but they are appalled that anyone could propose investigating Bush for the much more serious charges of war crimes? Indeed, they are arguing that such prosecutions would reduce the US to the level of a "banana republic"?

It's hard to take such people remotely seriously.

Media Matters sums up the revulsion that we should all feel better than I ever could:
That's what the conservative media consists of: partisans offering inconsistent, insincere, and nonsensical arguments on behalf of torture and the depraved thugs who authorized it.
For that is exactly what they are doing. They deserve to be held in the deepest contempt.


It's also worth bearing in mind that, despite this cacophony of noise from the right, that a majority of Americans favour investigation into the crimes of the Bush years.

Obama was elected to bring "change" and "accountability" to Washington. It will hardly be much of a change if he finds himself listening to the very same people who have defended torture for the past few years and questioned the patriotism of anyone who suggested that the president was straying into illegal and immoral territory.

These are the voices which enabled the very worst excesses of the Bush years, it should be no surprise that they now wish to move on without their being any accountability for what they enabled.

Click title for Media Matters article.


regina said...

The views of right wing Republicans, though horrific, should scarcely surprise us. What outrages me is to hear Obama describe the use of torture as a mistake, a euphemism if ever I heard one. These were not mistakes, but systematic and deliberate, exemplifying the apparent fact that US politicians see others as lesser to themselves. How true it is that one can judge how civilised or otherwisw a society is by how it treats its prisoners. However, one should not be surprised that the US uses torture and degrading methods in its usually illegal and always immoral, almost without exception overt and covert interventions in the affairs of other states.Typical, I am sad to say, of a country who is the number one international bully boy and which has not the slightest notion of what real democracy means.

Kel said...

I think Obama is making a mistake to call torture a mistake for the very reasons which you gave.

It's not "a mistake" or "a policy difference" or any of the other euphemisms the Republicans can concoct. These are war crimes pure and simple and if Obama won't prosecute another country eventually will.